The magic is back: for Frankie Dettori & Galileo Gold Newbury's Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes cannot come soon enough
Galileo Gold cantering up Newmarket's Long Hill (Summer 2016)
Newmarket trainer Hugo Palmer is excited about running his stable star Galileo Gold in 2017's first proper test in Europe for older milers - the Group One Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, at Newbury on Saturday, May 20.
The four-year-old Paco Boy colt has long had the £350,000 race over the straight mile at Newbury as his target.
Among the other 20 confirmed entries for the Locking Stakes revealed today (May 3) are Minding (Aidan O'Brien), Ribchester (Richard Fahey) and Qatar Racing's Lightning Spear (David Simcock.) Galileo Gold's stablemate Home of the Brave may also run.
Of the 21 confirmed entries (see list below) eight are Irish-trained and one is French-trained.
Palmer, who last year sent out Galileo Gold to win the first British Classic, the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, at Newmarket and then the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, believes his charge is better than ever: "Galileo Gold is absolutely there within himself and all we have to do now is nervously tick him over into the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes."
"All his really serious work is done and we took him for a racecourse gallop at Newmarket last Thursday."
"I think it is fair to say when Frankie (Dettori) got off him at Ascot (fifth in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, October 15) after he had had two less than pleasurable times with the horse, their relationship was a bit on the rocks. The main purpose of Thursday's racecourse gallop was to remind Frankie what an engine this horse has - and for them to get back into love with each other again."
"Galileo Gold had a lovely break over the winter and has settled down an enormous amount. Through December and January, when he came back into work, he was leading yearlings up Warren Hill which he would not have done before. It was wonderful to see."
"He would not have led his own generation of yearlings three years ago. Galileo Gold had to lead his lead horse the other day because the lead horse was playing up. He has just grown up."
"The look on Frankie's face after the gallop, the hugging and kissing of the horse, you really felt that the magic was back between them. The horse is in the right place, but it is so important that Frankie knows it too; that they believe in each other."
"The piece of work Galileo Gold did on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket Racecourse could not have gone better. He is totally versatile as far as the ground is concerned. I still pinch myself over his Guineas' win last year - everything went perfectly beforehand and in the race and he absolutely bolted up."
"He got himself very wound up towards the end of last year with the fairly relentless racing programme I had given him. All the signs are, having had a proper break, and being a year older and more mature, he has settled down.
Galileo Gold is owned by Al Shaqab Racing whose founder is His Excellency Sheikh Joaan Al Thani of Qatar.
Harry Herbert, racing advisor to Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, commented: "Galileo Gold looks fantastic. He is a different horse this year physically - he is much stronger - a really imposing colt."
Home Of The Brave, owned by Godolphin, could also take part for Palmer in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes.
The five-year-old horse has been a seven-furlong specialist to date and makes his seasonal debut in the Listed totescoop6 EBF Stallions King Richard III Stakes over that trip at Leicester on Saturday.
Palmer is hoping to have other runners on Al Shaqab Lockinge Day, including Crimean Tatar in the Group Three Al Rayyan Stakes over 12 furlongs and the Kodiac colt Never Back Down in the £50,000 Olympic Glory Conditions Race for two-year-olds over six furlongs.
Photos coutesy Hugo Palmer Racing. Click on images to enlarge them & entry list (below)